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Enviromental Commission Aims To Raise Pesticide Awareness

Pesticides cause water and air pollution, as well as soil contamination and the reduction of biodiversity.

The Bernards Township Environmental Commission discussed ways to alert the community about the dangers of pesticides at its meeting on July 12. Commission members said  spreading awareness about the harmful affects of pesticides is the first step toward eliminating pesticide use altogether.

In addition to having an adverse impact on nature and wildlife, pesticides cause health problems in children, according to studies referenced by the commission.

Many developments and condominium complexes governed by homeowner associations hire landscaping companies that use pesticides. In these instances, residents have no say in whether pesticides are used on their properties, commission members said.

Environmental Commission chairperson Joseph Speeney talked at length about a case where parents in one such development were threatened with legal action for asking contractors not to apply pesticides to their lawns.

Speeney underlined one potential avenue for municipal action on the basis of the health concerns: "These kinds of boards are not held to environmental regulations, but they are under health regulations," he said. "A homeowners association is responsible for the health and safety of residents."

The commission's first goal is to educate the public. One idea was to send out a letter to residents outlining the dangers of pesticide use. Another thought was to communicate to the the board of education and encourage it to make pesticide a subject of the school curriculum, thereby raising awareness in children who can than educate their parents.

"The end goal is to eliminate pesticides altogether," said Paula Axt, an Environmental Commission member.

Though use of pesticides remains the prerogative of private residents, commission members aid they believe there is a solution that will work for the benefit of all parties involved, even in special situations.

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